Space to navigate a tricky problem

This exercise will support you to:

  • Better understand the problem you’re facing
  • Consider your options for changing things
  • Clarify what you want to do next

It’ll take about 20 minutes to complete.


before you get started…

  • Grab a pen and some paper
  • Make yourself a drink – ideally caffeine and alcohol free – but anything goes
  • Find a comfy and quiet(ish) place to sit
  • Write down your answers to the questions below, as much or as little as you like
  • Spend as long as you like on this and come back to it if you want to
  • Follow the exercise to the end if you feel up to it

pause for thought

  • Take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth
  • Close your eyes and bring your attention first to your shoulders, then your stomach and then your feet – noticing how each feels
  • Pick the words that best describe how you would like to approach this exercise: slowly; kindly; creatively; openly; honestly; boldly; inquisitively; or something else

what are you working with?

  • Describe the problem or issue you are facing in sentence or two
  • How long has this problem lasted? Days, weeks, months or years?
  • How does thinking about this problem leave you feeling? Choose three words that best describe this
  • How often do you think about it?
  • When you do think about it, what tend to be your dominant or reoccurring thoughts?

How it affects you

  • What are the three most important things in your life?
  • Relative to these things, how important is this problem to you? 
  • Can you give two reasons for you giving the problem this level of importance?
  • What are the main negative impacts the problem is having on you, your life, or others? 
  • Are there any positive impacts of the problem on you or others?
  • If the problem isn’t solved, what might the future consequences of this be?

options review

  • From your perspective, what is causing the problem? Ask yourself: why is this happening? Then, ask why is that happening? And repeat. E.g:
    • Problem: I’m really hungry
    • Why? I haven’t eaten enough today [surface level cause]
    • Why? I ate a biscuit for breakfast
    • Why? I’ve run out of cereal
    • Why? I haven’t been shopping this week
    • Why? I’m too tired to go shopping
  • How much influence do you have on the cause of the problem you are facing?
  • Can you imagine the problem from someone else’s perspective? What would they say and do about it?
  • Has any thing, or person, helped alleviate the problem so far?
  • Have you faced a similar problem before? If so, what did you do then? Are there lessons you can learn from this previous experience?

what next?

  • Reflecting on your answers how much effort do you want to put in to resolving the problem?
  • Do you have any ideas for solving the problem? List the ideas you have
  • Who or what might help these solutions be more effective?
  • Do you need more time, support, information or resources to solve the problem?
  • Do you need to be mindful of or careful about anything as you move forward?
  • What, if anything, would you like to do in the next few weeks to work towards solving the problem?